The middle of February is starting to feel like Spring so I’m getting things going, BUT, all my work could be undone if we have a harsh March with snow and heavy frost. If you feel it best to wait till the clocks go forward that’s OK. But I feel it’s worth taking a chance now, so, here goes.
Last season, around March 2018, I planted potatoes in 70 litre sacks. Mainly early potatoes like Rocket & Charlotte. I found that these are still edible after digging a few out earlier this month (February 2019). All in all a very successful result and I can recommend growing your spuds in sacks above ground using compost.
So, after rooting the potatoes out I now have quite a lot of usable compost and I’ve started off some onions and peas by making beds from around 100 litres of used compost and planting into it. The compost still has a reasonable level of nutrients, but this can be supplemented with a liquid feed made from urea, water and comfrey which I keep mixed in a 200 litre water butt on the site.
As with all my no dig beds, I spread the compost over the ground making a bed around fifteen to eighteen inches wide and having a depth of two to three inches. Pat down to firm with the back of a spade and plant into the bed. My beds are around four yards long and I can plant roughly a hundred onion sets into each bed. I get about forty peas into the same size beds and I’m using Kelvedon Wonder as they don’t grow too tall and can be supported with short canes and string around the perimeter.
I’ve also used the spent compost from the potatoes to start off my carrot seeds (Early Nantes). I first mixed the compost with building sand at a ratio of one third sand to two thirds compost. I then placed the compost into the 70 litre sacks, filling to a suitable depth for the carrots (about six to eight inches should suffice). Then I sprinkled carrot seed on the top (sparingly), covered with some more compost and watered in. Last year, I tried sowing carrot seeds into the beds as described above, but they were too crowded and suffered from carrot fly and slug damage. I think sowing into the growing bags should work this season, but that remains to be seen.
Now is a good time to start off some seedlings in the greenhouse. I’ve just started peppers, chilli’s, kale, cabbage, leeks and bedding plants too (Marigold’s and Petunia). I mostly sow in cells which will be planted on, into “six packs” or small pots. I’ll need at least 144 bedding plants for my two “living walls” I have in the back yard. I’ll make sure I take a few photo’s when I start those off in late May or Early June.
I’ve also decided to grow a few strawberry plants in the greenhouse too. I usually grow them outside, but they suffer from slug damage and the birds like to feed on them. I dug up a few of the newer plants from the allotment and planted them in Clover compost in medium pots. I’ll keep them fed with a nitrogen feed until the fruits start to form when they’ll need phosphorous for good growth. Use a good tomato feed to get large juicy strawberries.